About Family, Americana, Ballad, Growing Up, Inspired by a Place, Inspired by Outdoors, Inspired by People, Introspective, Lyrics, Nostalgia, Poem, Verse Poetry, Wistful

Santa Cruz Young

Dedicated to my brothers, Russell Gray & Jeff Gray

Just to ride down that trail again
To see the whole Monterey Bay
And to feel that strong breeze
Against my golden brown face
Just to walk in that neighborhood
To Westlake with my schoolmates
And not have too worry about
What was on our dinner plates

When we were Santa Cruz young
We didn’t think too much about
Things our parents were doing
Like who they were countersuing
Or who had extra special clout
We only cared about each other
Fitting in and good sportsmanship
Riding our bikes around UCSC
We were wild and oh so crazy
As we’d go to the beach for a dip

I remember playing capture the flag
I remember how it all was and felt
And I remember my first crushes
How I thought my heart would melt
I remember my first childhood kiss
With a girl from down the block
And how my Daddy worked so hard
While Mom stayed in and was his rock

Just to be in my old room again
Just to listen to that old record play
And to be around my older brothers
So the mem’ries wouldn’t fade
If I could go back in to Calvin Place
Or hike to the bottom of the hill
I’d want to also go and visit
Ron, Shirley, Christine & Bill

When we were Santa Cruz young
We didn’t think too much about
Things our parents were doing
Like who they were countersuing
Or who had extra special clout
We only cared about each other
Baseball cards and Harvey West
Fitting in and real good manners
Visiting with the Catletts & Danners
And making sure we did our best

Just to ride down that trail again
To see the whole Monterey Bay
And to feel that strong breeze
Against my golden brown face

And to feel that strong breeze
Against my golden brown face

When we were Santa Cruz young
Oh, when we were Santa Cruz young.

About a Friend, About Family, Americana, From The Trunk, Growing Up, Inspired by a Place, Inspired by People, Inspired By Situations, Introspective, Lyrics, Nostalgia, Poem, Verse Poetry


Mom and Dad took a trip to Maui
I was all alone for a few days
Gary said we’d throw a party
And for it, I’d get high praise

Don’t know how many were invited
But it got out of hand pretty fast
Word of mouth was how it got out
Everyone but me had a blast

Our dog Joey got out of our yard
Our rotary phone disappeared
A plant fell off the microwave
And that’s when things got weird

I found some girl in my parents room
Trying on Mom’s dresses and shoes
Someone got into my brother’s records
Everyone drank all the booze

It smelled funny in the main bath
The fire poker walked out the door
Someone was locked in my bedroom
There was trash all over the floor

Cops showed up and were speechless
I was ashamed by how bad it looked
They didn’t charge anyone with anything
But I was sure my goose was cooked

My parents got home from Maui
They grounded me for a little while
It was the craziest thing I’ve ever done
But when I think about it now, I smile


Americana, Nostalgia, Optimism, Patriotic, Verse Poetry

A Patriot’s Poem

Dedicated our our Armed Forces who have unselfishly served America through so many wars.
Thank you for your service. – MKG

If you want to say you can’t stand for the flag
In a classroom or sporting event, cause it’s wrong
And should we really pledge allegiance to a symbol
Why can’t we kneel as we sing a patriotic song?

Why respect a piece of cloth with stripes and stars?
Why honor a land that’s filled with so many flaws?
On top of that you cite it as your freedom to start
An Anti-United States of America cause

Let me tell you son, that flag is better than us
It will live longer than all of us here in the USA
Everything we have we owe to the protection
From soldiers who guard us night and day

They put their lives on the line to see we live
To watch our kids grow to be women and men
And when our soldiers die while on tour of duty
We see the flag cover their coffins again & again

You’re saying you feel like you never belonged
You say racism exists and you want us to pay
And you’ll burn the flag that has united us
That has been with us and shown us the way

Well I know some people won’t forgive others
And some work at it like a riddle without clues
There are those who forget who wronged them
And those who don’t want to decide or choose

I think I’d rather believe in what each of us does
To promote goodwill and peace from sea to sea
Erases every discrimination and hurt slowly
And turns this Country into what we want to be.

Matthew Kenneth Gray
April 19, 2021

Inspired by a Book, Inspired by a Movie, Verse Poetry

Ponyboy’s Poem

Inspired by S.E. Hinton’s book “The Outsiders”

My brothers are at odds with each other
But I wouldn’t trade them out for anyone
I’m grateful for greasers who are my family
I’m proud of Tulsa, the city I’m from

But my pride was tarnished by the Socs
It was foolish of me to walk alone
I should have known they’d hurt me
I always thought I could hold my own

Those guys were in that Mustang
It was in the middle of the day
They pulled up right beside me
Wasn’t much I could do or say

And my best friend, Johnny Cade
Was ganged up in the same way
We’re targets for their aggression
When they’re drunk and ready to play

My parents were in their car at sunset
When a train hit them on the track
It was hell to think they were gone
They weren’t ever gonna come back

Darry got control but he’s not our Dad
Soda dropped out, got a job pumpin’ gas
They say I’ve gotta graduate from school
But I’m failing everything but one class

I’ll write ‘bout the Socs in that Mustang
That afternoon they beat me til I bled
And they night tried to kill me and Johnny
Johnny stabbed Bob, now Bob’s dead

We went to get help from our buddy Dally
He told us where we could lay our heads
Johnny bleached and cut my platinum hair
“Gone With the Wind” was the book I read

We were there for a week then came Dally
He told us we were wanted by the court
And he took us to the DQ for sandwiches
But then our hideout plan was cut short

A bus full of kids were on a field trip there
At the old abandoned church where we hid
And Dally must have dropped a cigarette
We had to save their lives, that’s what we did

Johnny got burned real bad, so did Dally
My brothers came and we hugged
Darry and Soda were happy to see me
They said Johnny was in pain ‘n drugged

The newspaper called us three heroes
But I’m the only one who’s now alive
Dally was killed in a shootout outside
Johnny didn’t have the will to survive

And so I sit here at my desk at our home
I’ll write about Cherry Valance too
She’ll read it and understand me better
But I know what she said to me was true

She’d see me in the halls and say nothing
Even with all the conversations we’ve had
At least we’ll always share the same sunset
Meanwhile I’ll work to be a high school grad

December 15, 2020

Hokum, Inspired by People, Lyrics, Verse Poetry

I Know That Guy

We went to school with him in California
He had so many things on his plate
He lettered in four sports and belonged to many clubs
He was in charge of his unpredictable fate

You were his steady girlfriend for two years
He’s had the best friend since the 5th Grade
It appeared to our peers and the whole town
That he had it made in the shade

But he was the hardest worker I ever knew
His standards got higher as he grew
I asked him once what he wanted to do
Then he smiled at me and looked at you

Then said;
I’m here to be with her through the good times and bad
I’m here to make her happy when she’s feeling sad
I’m here to inspire everybody until I die
So whenever you saw me, you’d say, “Hey, I know that guy”

After High School he went to a little school called Harvard
He got straight A’s in math so he studied that
But he was also artistic and creative
He’d write as he washed his clothes in the laundromat

His roommate was a genius who wrote music
One of the best singer-songwriters I’d ever met
His song about Poisoning Pigeons in the Park
Was my favorite one I’ll never forget

Tom was the hardest working student I’d ever seen
But his songs were offensive and many called him mean
When I asked him at a party what his next one would be
He looked at you and him and then he laughed at me

He said;
I’m here to make fun of everything- that’s called Parody
And eventually I’ll teach mathematics at a college town by the sea
Your friend told me about a school in Santa Cruz where life is like pie
and I’ll hide from strangers who say, “Hey, I know that guy!”

So my friend helped his singing roommate out
By selling his albums by mail and his shows
And what happened to Tom Lehrer
Well now everybody knows

He conquered the novelty music business
Then taught Math ‘n Music Theatre for many years
At his songs, he wrote for all his classes
The students would laugh so hard then break out in tears

And my buddy who helped Tom get over his fear
Well, he built quite a long and lasting career
He produced many famous and great jazz acts
He just didn’t ever know what it was like to relax

When he walks into a restaurant or goes shopping now
People stop in their tracks and start to stare
He’ll sign autographs for people when they ask
And he’s a multi-millionaire

Whenever he comes into our hometown
The three of us go down to the Junior High
His best friend I mentioned earlier, you know he’s me
And that rascal’s still in love with you, my wife
When he met our son, he screamed “Hey, I know that guy!”
Our son snapped back- “What’s the deal with that tie?”


Adult Themes, Autobiographical, Inspired by a Concert, Lyrics, Verse Poetry

Pearl Jam’s Secret Show, ‘93

We found out from our favorite bartender
That Pearl Jam was comin’ to our town
She said we could not tell anyone
We swore we wouldn’t make a sound

The Catalyst had booked a Secret Show
Right before their tour was gonna begin
We planned to see them in San Francisco
It was such a free ‘n easy time back then

We were all so stoked to go get in line
The mornin’ the tickets were bein’ sold
We already had their first single from Vs.
It was a hard rockin’ one called “Go”

We got there and the line was longer
Than we had hoped and we were pissed
It was announced on the radio that mornin’
But we couldn’t get on the band’s VIP List

Luckily we were able to get our tickets
I could only get a couple but that was fine
I didn’t have someone to call my own
So I called up my brother who sold wine

I told him about Pearl Jam’s Secret Show
He was excited and he couldn’t wait
He wore that shirt from Epic Records
We made sure we didn’t get there late

My friend George brought his friend Marci
We all had fun, it was a total blast
Eddie even jumped from the balcony
It was his trademark move in the past

I’ve seen many bands play at the Catalyst
Each one of them were not that bad
But Eddie & Company were incredible
When it was over I was kinda sad

But me and Danny Simon Jr. had tickets
To the first concert of their nationwide tour
That show was larger but more crowded
Whether it was better, well I’m not sure

All I know is it was so damn fun that night
At Pearl Jam’s Secret Show back in ‘93
It can’t be recreated now, nor should it
It’s a time & place I cherish in my memory

Matthew Kenneth Gray
October 17, 2020

Adult Themes, Americana, Ballad, Inspired by High School, Inspired by People, Jazz, Lyrics, No Music Yet, Old Wounds, Verse Poetry, Wistful

A Reunion Tale

A wave of nausea hit him as he walked through the halls
He remembered their mocking and physical abuse
They teased him heartlessly & kicked him in the balls
But he knew they changed and he’s different too
He sauntered into the reunion in his suit and tie
His gorgeous girlfriend was holding his hand
She knew how hard High School was, his inner why
She was the manager of his Western Swing Band

And oh, he knows he’s no longer that boy
With the thrift store bought guitar
And oh, he knew that girl who was by herself
and drinking shots of tequila at the bar
So, he walked up and said, “How’ve you been?”
She said her guilt consumed her from within
He looked into her honest, caring eyes
He forgave her with a hug, stayed civilized

An old bully of his shot over and split them apart
He said, “Get your hands off her you creep”
Instead of being defensive and guarding his heart
He said the words that cut that bully deep
“I’m not that wounded teen anymore,
I’m consoling her, can’t you see she feels so bad
For the way she treated me, she knows it was wrong
The fact that you haven’t changed is so, so sad.”

And oh, what that bitter bully swiftly did
Was throw a sucker punch in his face
Then he quickly but quietly walked away
To the entrance of that crowded place
A couple classmates called immediately
for a soon as possible ambulance
The bully’s victim was attended to
Like he was some kind of honorable prince

He sauntered into the reunion in his suit and tie
His gorgeous girlfriend was holding his hand
She knew his inner why, how hard High School was
She was the manager of his Western Swing band
But he left the party alone and she stayed behind
Took the time to write down the witnesses’ names
She said she’d get his attorneys in contact with them
Cause gone were those teenaged fun and games

They sued that bitter broken bully and they won
Then that female classmate shot him with her gun

May 17, 2020

Creativity Themes, Inspired by People, Introspective, No Music Yet, Verse Poetry

On Writing Songs

Inspired by Paul Williams, Doak Turner and Steven McClintock

Write from the heart
Not from the head
Songs that you’re proud of
Songs lighter than lead
Songs lighter than feathers
And stronger than steel
Songs that have depth
Songs you can feel
Songs people will relate to
Songs people will like
In arenas and dive bars
Or at some Open Mic
Songs that have meaning
Songs that won’t quit
Songs that’ll inspire
Songs people will get
Songs that are riddles
But aren’t hard to understand
The kind we’ll all cherish
But can’t hold in our hands
So they make way to our hearts
They make way to our souls
They grab hold of our visions
They fill our deepest holes
They unite us and trigger
All the things we already know
But we still learn from them
Songs help us all grow
Especially those who write them
Like builders of cars
That take us places
Like inner caverns or to the stars
Where we can see hope
In the promise of every day
That someone might listen
To what these songs say
And what they mean
What they represent
Pure love & communication
and a life well spent

February 7, 2020

Americana, Inspired by a Place, Inspired by Junior High, Love, Romance, Verse Poetry

Porch Swing Date (Part 1)

They were both in Junior High School
She was a few months older than him
She lived in a small town called Aromas
She was Jenny and his name was Tim
Tim was living on a property off Vega Road
Not too far from her parents’ place
They met each other on the school bus
He was captivated by her angelic face

And one day he popped the question
He asked if she’d hang out with him one night
He said it could just be a porch swing date
They could just talk and watch the moonlight
It wasn’t up to her to accept his proposal
Jenny said he’d need to ask her Dad
He told her he was intimidated by him
She snapped back, “Come on, he’s not so bad!”

So Tim mustered up some courage that day
He rode his bike a few miles to Jenny’s house
But when Jenny’s opened the front door
Tim was as timid as a three legged mouse
Jenny’s Dad knew why Tim was there
Jenny already told him a boy was coming by
Tim was confused and pleasantly surprised
When Jenny’s Dad asked him to come inside

And they sat there eye to eye in the front room
Tim was scared as scared could be
He thought to himself “It’s not like I’m asking
For his permission, so she would marry me”
“I just would like to get to know your daughter, sir”
“I’d make sure she got home by her curfew.”
He smiled as he delivered his line to Tim,
Son, I’ve got a good feeling about you

So Tim and Jenny had their porch swing date
Tim felt luckier than he’d ever felt before
They sat and talked over Arnold Palmers
He bought for them at the General Store
It was an innocent time they were having
They didn’t have a care in the world
During their very first porch swing date
She found him funny and she liked that girl

February 11, 2018